Is Dylan Cozens A Legit Prospect?

Here’s another article submitted by one our readers.  I think the conclusion is one that a lot of readers grudgingly accept because of the subject’s wide variation in his splits.  As before, the writer offers several comps to support his premise.

As always, neither the statistical opinions stated in a submitted article nor the interpretations of same are those of the staff here at Phuture Phillies.

Is Dylan Cozens A Legit Prospect?

by V1again

I like to use comparable players to gauge a prospect’s profile. I am not a scout and don’t pretend to be one. I look at stats, body type and scouting reports to try to find similar players and then compare their performance at similar ages. Here is my breakdown of Dylan Cozens’ prospect profile…

Dylan has been a lightening rod of a prospect since his high draft spot. He is truly an extreme prospect. Everything he does with the bat is extreme. He has a serious carrying tool in his 80 Raw Power. He is so strong that he doesn’t have to even swing hard to destroy a baseball. When he connects it is a thing of beauty. Majestic. Judge-esq power. It makes you dream…but the question is how that is going to translate against major league pitching.

Dylan is a giant of a man. I have seen him play live in Lakewood and he has a cannon for an arm in right. I saw both him and Tocci in the same outfield and I think Cozens has a stronger arm. I saw him throw a laser beam from right to home plate to get an out. It was very impressive. Cozens moves like a locomotive. I mean that analogy. He is not a fluid athlete, so he does not have great lateral movement, but once he gets going, he can move fast. Like a locomotive. He could probably play defensive outfield in the majors, but he will never be a “good” defensive outfielder at the major league level. In my mind, I was thinking a Pat Burrell type outfielder when I saw him play. Not going to cover a lot of ground, but will throw out guys with that arm. He will also never be a base stealer and no one thinks that he will be a high batting average guy. So the entire profile centers around his raw power translating.

As mentioned above, I looked for comparable players to see how he is performing relatively. Here are a few good comps:

Chris Davis is a strikeout machine. He led the majors in strikeouts in 2016, producing a 32.9% k rate. He also had a 13.2% walk rate and a .239 ISO and overall line of .221/.332/.459. This year his numbers are worse, but let’s go with 2016 as his profile. As a 23 year old in AAA (same age as Cozens) Davis had a 12.9% walk rate, a 20.1% k rate with a .194 ISO and a line of .327/.418/.521.

Compare that to Cozens line this season: 9.9% walk rate, a 34.3% k rate, a .220 ISO and a line of .223/.306/.443. I mean it isn’t close. Davis’ line is far, far superior. But focus on the k rates. In AAA, Davis had a 20% k rate. In the majors that jumped to a career 31.8% k rate. Cozens’ k rate is 2.5% higher in AAA than the MLB strikeout leader has at the MLB level and 14% higher than Davis’ comparable AAA season. Cozens also has a significantly lower walk rate.

As I have mentioned before, it is typical to see a k rate go up 4-6% from AAA to the Majors. Davis is a bit of an outlier as his went up nearly 12%. This 4-6% increase in k rate doesn’t happen all of the time. But it is pretty common. If this trend holds, Cozens is looking at a MLB k rate of nearly 40%. Who has nearly that k rate in the majors? It is very rare to find a major league player with a k rate above 35%. I went back to 2010 and only found it a few times. And even then, no one came close to 40% until this year…Joey Gallo has a 38.6% k rate this year. If that holds, Gallo would have the highest k rate since 2010 (note I didn’t go back further, but my guess is it would be the highest in a long, long time).

As a 23 year old in the majors Joey Gallo has the worst K rate in the majors. Here is Gallo’s line: 12.8 % walk rate, 38.6 % k rate, a .341 ISO (2nd in all baseball) with a batting line of .205/.318/.546. As a 22 year old, (a year younger than Cozens), Gallo’s AAA line was: 15.7% walk rate, 34.6 % k rate, .290 ISO, with a batting line of .240/.367/.529

So comparing Cozens’ AAA line to a year younger Gallo’s line, Gallo walked in 6.8% more plate appearances, struck out the same amount and Gallo had a 70 point higher ISO. Simply put, Cozens is Gallo with materially fewer walks and materially less in game power. What does that look like at the major league level? My guess is a hitter that has a line of .210/.280/.520, which produces a .800 OPS, that will strike out nearly 40% of the time. You can count on one hand the major league players with an .800 (or lower) OPS who strikes out 30% of the time. Of course, none strikeout 40% k rate. Cut the sample size down to Corner Outfielders, and the comparables looks even more bleak. If you focus on the 30% k rate benchmark, the player you are looking at is Kris Davis, on the As. His line this year is  11.3% walk rate, 31.6% k rate, .263 ISO, for a batting line of .238/.325/.500. In AAA, Kris had a 11.0% walk rate, 21.0% k rate, a .218 ISO and a line of .255/.349/.473. Comparing Kris Davis’ major league stats to Cozens’ AAA stats, Cozens has a lower walk rate, a significantly higher k rate while hitting with less power. That is to Davis’ major league stats. Comparing Cozens to Davis’ AAA stats and it is a blowout. Cozens has a lower walk rate, and a 13.3% higher k rate. Think about that for a second. It is astounding.

How about one more comp. As a 21 year old in AAA, Adam Dunn had a line of .329/.441/.676 with a k rate of 20% and a walk rate of 15%. Dunn was 2 years younger than Cozens’ AAA year and his statistical profile absolutely destroys Cozens’. I mean, not one stat is close. Dunn went on to have a career MLB K rate of 28.6%. Which is 5.7% lower than Cozens’ AAA k rate. Again, this blows my mind. When you think about Adam Dunn as a player, you think a true two outcome player – homers or strikeouts. Yet Cozens is striking out 5.7% more in AAA than Dunn did at the major league level.

Ok one last comp. Ryan Howard, a strikeout machine, had a career k rate of 28.2%. Ryan fricken Howard had a major league k rate 6% lower than Cozens’ AAA line.

Ok, I have made my point. I keep looking for extremes and I simply can’t find anyone who struggles to make contact with the baseball at the rate that Cozens’ does. That player just doesn’t exist in the major leagues. And that is the point. It is just too hard to make an impact if you don’t put the ball in play 40% of the time. Heck, it is hard to stick around if you don’t put the ball in play 30% of the time, especially as a corner outfielder.
Oh, I almost forgot, Cozens can’t hit left handed pitching. He has struggled against left handed pitching in the upper levels. So in all likelihood, he would be a platoon player with that line.

Now, I am 99% confident that Cozens will get a cup of coffee. And it is certainly possible that he runs into enough balls as a platoon to hang around for a few years. He will definitely make it on Sports Center with a big blast. But unless he can somehow dramatically lower his k rate, while facing far better pitching than he saw in AAA, then he doesn’t seem to have a major league comp of even a below average regular.

What’s the “hope” scenario? While it is possible that he dramatically lowers his k rate, it is extremely unlikely if you use MLB history as a guide. Very few players have a lower k rate in the majors than in the minors. And as you saw in all of the comps, it is far more likely with someone of his profile to see their K rate jump dramatically when getting to the majors. So the hope scenario is that he maintains his AAA k rate, while materially increasing his walk rate and also his in game power and becomes Joey Gallo. A player with an .860 OPS who strikes out 39% of the time and is average defensively. It seems like a low probability outcome to me, but anything is possible.

75 thoughts on “Is Dylan Cozens A Legit Prospect?

  1. I’m not disappointed in Cozens because I have never considered him a legit prospect. It is impossible to strikeout as often as he does and hit left handers as poorly as he does and be considered legit. He needs to repeat AAA and have far better stats to be considered a real prospect as opposed to a novelty act.

      1. Yeah, that’s the one comp I always think of for Cozens. He had a 41.2% K rate at age 23 in AAA. He also had trouble hitting LHP. That kind of feels like the ceiling for Cozens now.

        1. @Otero….if Cozens can carve himself a MLB career like Branyan then it probably isn’t all that bad.
          Just remember to keep his bags packed.

            1. Frank….Cozens would seem to be closely aligned with Branyan , however, I have not comped their respective minor league metrics by age and level….so it was just a guess on my part. In 2015 I had Cozens comped with a minor league Paul O’Neill which was a bit too far over the top.

  2. It has been a disapppinting year for Cozens, but a return to AAA won’t be a bad thing for this kid, another thing to point out is Dylan was a two sport star in high school I realize that was years past but probably stunted his development slightly.
    While I never considered him to be a top 5 prospect, 80 grade power doesn’t grow in trees so he must be at least considered a prospect.

    1. This is not true. He played one year of football. I find it hard to believe that one year of football stunted his development.

      1. He got a scholarship to play for Arizona or Az state and turned it down, I didn’t realize he only played the one year at high school
        I find it hard to believe at his size he only played his senior season at high school but I don’t really know, it sounds like you are more up on his pre professional days than I am

  3. I think .210/.280/.520 is a bit generous for what Cozens would do in the majors next year. I was thnking you’d get something more along the lines of Jon Singleton in his first year. .168/.285/.355 13.8% BB 37% K. It is of course an imperfect comparison as Singleton was 2 years younger, walked more, but had less power. I’d guess something like .180/.250/.380 for Cozens

  4. He’s going to repeat AAA and he has to get better, clearly. Lehigh Valley outfield next year is Pullin, Tocci, and Cozens.

    Phillies go with Williams, Odubel, and Altherr, with Quinn as the fourth outfielder.

    1. The Astros gave him $10 million before he played a MLB game, or if he did play it was only a handful. It was a high risk high reward deal, sort of like the deals Braun and Longoria signed very early in their careers. Only those 2 players had already performed at a high level at the ML. Singleton hit a bunch of HRs early in his career but struck out about 35% at was below the mendoza line. Throw in the fact he loved the wacky and had $10 million regardless, well I dont think he was a motivated player.

      1. Didn’t franco get 10 million from a company, sort of the same thing. he is guaranteed 10 million against a percentage of future earnings.

      2. basically they told him they’d call him up if he signed the deal, because then they wouldnt have to worry about the super 2 dates

  5. It’s disappointing for Cozens, but prospects fail all the time. I have no doubt that he’ll get his cup of coffee, but he’s the type of guy I can see turning into a 4th OF/pinch hitter for another team at age 27.

  6. Thanks for this, v1again! The only thought I have is that K% have risen over the years. Might things change a bit if one were to compare his K% to league average, and then look at the comps you mention and compare their K% to league average when they were in AAA?

      1. In football they are all about ‘release times’ for QB’s. In evaluating the arm of an outfielder like Cozens for strength and accuracy, some consideration should be given to how quickly the guy unloads on a fielded ball. When I’ve seen Cozens, his release is slow on balls on the ground which a runner has to factor in a decision to take another base. They said Pat Burrell had a good arm for accuracy but he had a slow release as well. It matters more of course with a right fielder.

  7. I thought Domingo Santana might be a good comp in AAA, but he’s not — much better BB rate, lower K rate, much, much better BA, and at a younger age (and of course he’s putting up an .850 OPS in MLB this year). Hey, maybe we could make Cozens a PTBNL in a trade?

  8. Cozens is still a legitimate prospect is you define prospect as a minor league who has the probability to play in the majors. A LH power bat is always in a checklist for most GMs. But is Cozens can be a good MLB player or what MLB player can he be? that’s probably the better question that has relevance to the Phils.

    The metrics available (all from minors) may not give you the results you want to see. But statistics is only one half of the equation in baseball. Most people in this country becomes successful because they seize the opportunity. Give Cozens his opportunity and that’s the best way to find out rather than speculate.

    1. Think of prospects like a poker game. There is always a chance to draw an inside straight, but the odds are terrible. Far better to focus on players with a much higher probability.

      1. excellent information as usual v1, thank you for the hard work. The interesting thing (for me) is Dylan’s year this year. The start was horrible. Then he got white hot. Now not only is he ice cold, and he recently went through a stretch where he hardly played. What changed after he got hot? In has been rare in my experience to see a healthy player go back and forth like this within one season, year to year sure, but? Many here thought (hoped) he had adjusted when he warmed up, but many here (like me) have not seen him play. So what happened/

      2. EXACTLY!!!

        Everyone knows there’s a huge element of randomness and unpredictability but the statistics combined with scouting reports give us a better understanding of the odds.
        And for Dylan Cozens, the odds are just not very good.

      3. theoretically that’s correct. but how do you determine the probability? by comparing stats to select samples? your basis right now is basically you’re picking up numbers and comparing them – and that’s purely subjective.

        This is not my own wording but I lifted this from Sabermetrics manifesto by David Grabiner (NYY Director of Quantitative analysis).

        “Sabermetricians agree with most fans that such stats are ridiculous; they are there only to hold the interest of the (mostly statistically illiterate) television audience.”

        IMO, prospects in the baseball world are like currency. there are situations that you can control the fluctuation of the value of currency (prospects) but there will be outside factors beyond your control. the responsibility of the FO is to determine how to use these currency sell them, hold them or use them. That’s the reason why teams with strong farms have more power in either acquiring better talent of building a good team because they have currency to do it.

        Poker game is poker game. I don’t see any analogy of it with the prospects. Lottery, probably especially for LA signings.

        1. So your point is:
          1. You don’t like me so you argue with literally everything that I write.
          2. I am statistically illiterate because I think that it is important that you can’t find an example of a productive major league player with as poor minor league stats.

          Ok. We know your points. You don’t have to post the same point a dozen more times.

          1. @v1 – sorry, if i made you think that way. my argument is on the content/context and not the name behind it. i don’t normally exchange opinions with you a lot since most of my heated arguments are something you don’t usually join (i.e. WAR, Cesar, Doobie, etc). Since you write the articles publicly, i just want to comment on it.

            a) On Dylan Cozens – i just noted that there’s nothing in your article that is no longer a public knowledge and the conclusion

            b) On Mickey Moniak – the conclusion is premature given that you claimed the Moniak should be untoucheable because of his 70 grade tool just months ago.

            1. He tends to get snippy. Doesnt take well to criticism. Sounds like the POTUS if you ask me. Especially with the female comment last time.

            2. agree, writing something easy but dealing with the feedback is the hard part. i write boxing blogs before for extra $$ but you should have the right temperament to survive public writing.

  9. Btw, the other day I talked to someone who played in the low minors of the Phillies. He played with Franco, Domingo, Tocci etc. Anyway, he said one of the hardest things for players in the minors is the DL, especially if they have/had signed a significant signing bonus. He said what killed Tyson Gillies was being on the DL and going out to the clubs and everything that entails. Also mentioned Jared Cosart, and after some of the stories he told me I completely understand why Cosart never reached his potential. Everyone has talent, but the night life and everything that revolves around that(women, alcohol, drugs, lack of proper sleep, poor nutrition) eventually begin to chip away at the things that make you special. He said when a guy went on the DL, their life is turned upside down because all they are used to doing is playing baseball. Now that is taken away, you dont have your parents/family there to support you and you easily fall into bad habits. I asked him about curfew, and he said the guys who didnt have the big signing bonus like him stayed in the hotel, but some guys had the $ to rent a place where there is no oversight from the team. Very interesting stories. Like I said know I have a better understanding why some guys who cant figure out what happened to them, now it makes sense. Of course this is not a blanket statement. People get hurt and career is never realized, or they were just not good enough. He said the DL was the worst though, it makes total sense when talking about late teens and early 20 something athletes.

  10. He got off to a bad start, comparisons arent as acurate as we might think, a player is good because they can adjust and learn, repetition and correct adjustments

    1. His July and August line is a combined .181/.301/.319 with a 12.5% walk rate and a 41.9% k rate.

      To my untrained eye, that seems like he is getting worse. What exactly do you see that is improving with adjustments?

  11. Carlos Tocci better keep his current upswing, otherwise, we will be reading about him and his lack of power in the next coming days.

      1. nope, because Tocci is playing better than expected since his Day 1 in REA. it’s always been the “what have you done lately” mentally.

        i’ll find this article more interesting if this was written when Cozens is destroying REA last year and playing well in CLW 2 years ago.

        1. There were plenty of people pointing out the red flags of Cozens splits last year. That’s why so many of us liked Rhys much better.

          1. Cozens is an easy target to pick because of red flags written all over. there’s a lot who got excited from his CLW and REA breakout, but i don’t think Cozens changed a lot of minds.

            1. i should have said A+ and AA instead. anyway, the article is a good for reading pleasure. however, it provided something that most already know for 3+ years now.

          2. Yes, most of us were happy he did well in Reading but expected him to struggle in AAA. That said, I’m curious to see what he does next year in AAA – I expect quite a bit of improvement.

    1. Tocci has to go down as being among the top 5 most polarizing prospects/young major leaguers in the history of this site.

      Here’s my top 5 Phuture Phillies most polarizing prospects, most of whom are more recent (because, let’s face it, for almost 10 years whatever good prospect we had was usually traded away by Ruben Amaro and that’s not hyperbole).

      1. Dom Brown – It turns out that lone-voice-in-the wilderness Roccom was right – he couldn’t make the necessary adjustments and failed miserably.

      2. Tocci – Either he’s a skilled-up-and-comer or he’s a skinny runt who will never be able to hit major league pitching. He’s grown on me and I think he’ll probably make the majors but it’s hard to see him as anything more than a spare outfielder because, with his build, he’s a boy among men.

      3. Cesar Hernandez – Often did stupid stuff as a young major leaguer, but he’s looking like a solid first division regular with possibly more upside to come.

      4. Dylan Cozens.

      5. Zach Eflin – the jury’s still out but it’s clear that he has a good arm but probably won’t excel unless he develops better swing-and-miss stuff.

        1. Yup – Rizz belongs in there somewhere too.

          I compared him to Kent Hrbek (_&*_&*^%*_!!!! ) – how dumb was that?

  12. Given Cozens splits, he should be looked at as a platoon player. A team which has a spot for such a player might provide a good slot. Also, there has been some talk of expanding rosters to 26 or 27. If that were to happen, a “specialist” like Cozens would be easier to fit into a roster.

  13. I believe he is a prospect based on the fact that he plays the OF relatively well & his power translates in the majors.

    Given his height, I would even give him a try at 1B to give him extra value to the team. After that, he would make a good platoon partner at 1B & RF.

    If Altherr somehow comes down to earth next year, the door opens for Cozens. Perhaps some work with Stairs in spring training will help his approach when he starts at AAA next year.

      1. Well, consider the lineup he would be in. Depending on who is moved in the off-season, Cozens & Alfaro would be batting 7 & 8 given their lack of plate discipline.

        I can live with Cozens hitting 20HR on a platoon basis batting out of the 7 hole.

        Consider this lineup:
        1-JPC, SS
        2-Cesar/Kingery, 2B
        3-Doobie, CF
        4-Hoskins, 1B
        5-Williams, LF
        6-Franco, 3B
        7-Cozens, RF
        8-Alfaro, C

        Many strikeouts from 5 through 8 in that lineup.

    1. pretty dang close. Deer had a career MLB k rate of 31.2%. Still 3.6% lower than Cozens’ AAA k rate. but if you wanted to find a low OB% guy with some power and a lot of strikeouts, this might be the closest comp.

      Deer was a below replacement level player for almost every year of his 12 year career.

      Again, if you have that as your starting corner OF, then you have a bad team.

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